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Description: Odeon Cinema
Date Listed: 6 March 1984
English Heritage Building ID: 201526
OS Grid Reference: TQ2850889490
OS Grid Coordinates: 528508, 189490
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5896, -0.1464
TQ2889 MUSWELL HILL ROAD, N10
800/21/1 ODEON CINEMA
GV 6.3.84 II*
Cinema. 1935-6 by George Coles for the Muswell Hill and Harlesden Property Company, of which Oscar Deutsch of Odeon Cinemas was a director. Red brick, the cinema facade clad in black and cream faience tiles. Flat asphalted roof.
The cinema is tucked on to Fortis Green Road because the prominent corner site originally intended was opposed by members of the church opposite. Cinema with double-height foyer and circular inner foyers on 2 levels leads to double-height cinema auditorium with balcony set to the rear of the flats. The area under the balcony subdivided into smaller screens in 1974. The curve of the foyer and circular inner foyer discreetly turn the customer through some ninety degrees into the auditorium.
Because of the church's opposition, the facade of the cinema was deliberately made relatively low-key. Curved centrepiece with vertical fins, stepped up to centre, between blind projecting end bays clad in contrasting black faience. No fenestration, just 5 pairs of original double doors with margin-light glazing to one side and central transom. The outmost pairs separated by walls for billboards and projecting curved rib. The name ODEON in neon affixed to the parapet.
Double-height foyer with curved ends, having paired columns at either side with banded decoration reminiscent of the film set of 'Things to Come' made in 1935. Banded motif to walls. Staircase to right incorporating further horizontal detailing. Coved ceiling lighting. At top of staircase circular landing with similar coved circular ceiling opening and central circular lighting. On ground floor vestibule leads to inner vestibule formed of former rear stalls area leading to 2 smaller cinemas inserted under the balcony in May 1974. At first floor original double doors lead to inner vestibule originally intended as a tearoom and now a bar, with 2 large columns and sloping ceiling, with horizontal grillework on wall to auditorium. From the centre of this wall, doors and stairs lead to auditorium. Double-height auditorium with balcony, whose curved front complements the steep curve of the front wall to the proscenium, which has moulded horizontal and vertical bands. Horizontal banding on ante-proscenium contrasts with 3 stepped rounded pilasters, concealing coved lighting. The side walls also moulded with horizontal bands and vertical accents, the whole styled on the lines of German cinemas of the late 1920s. Central laylight between ribs of separate small lights designed to resemble a roll of film running down to the proscenium. Banded decoration to side of ceiling, forming deep cornice. Odeon clocks over exit doors to either side of proscenium, and orchestra pit in front area of stalls no longer used. Bronzed handrails round central vomitory, and metal crush barriers remain in stepped seated balcony.
The Odeon, Muswell Hill, is the most elaborate interior of any Odeon cinema to survive. Because of the restrictions placed on the external facade, the opportunity was taken to make the interior more lavish than was usual in the Odeon circuit, and the result is an elegant design of unusual imagination and crispness. With the New Victoria, City of Westminster, the Odeon Muswell Hill best demonstrates the influence of German expressionism in British cinema design. As all the most famous German models have been gutted or demolished, the English examples are particularly important. The style was adopted in Britain as a more sophisticated alternative to the historicist pastiches employed in cinemas of the late 1920s and early 1930s, and one more suited to the middle-class clientele of Muswell Hill. The style of the cinema, with its contrasting faience motifs, is continued in the adjoining shops and flats.
(Sources: Atwell D: Cathedral of the Movies: 1979; 150-: Gray R: Cinemas in Britain: 1996, P9)
Listing NGR: TQ2850889490
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.